One of the most informative events at IBC 2014 was “Imagine Live.” This event outlined Imagine’s roadmap for the move to IP media. That was already interesting; it validated our belief that IP is increasingly central to the AV world. Imagine CEO Charlie Vogt specified that the shift to IP will quickly encompass live video as well as recordings. “We are seeing more and more cameras that will be IP-enabled,” Vogt said. “It’s not five years away. I’d say it will happen over the next two years. You can mark my word on that.”
The biggest take-away from the event, though, was CTO Balam Nair’s timeline for 4K. Nair suggested service providers should have a 4K plan by 2016, or they would be behind. It was one of the first times I’ve heard specific dates for the 4K transition, and I heard similar mentions throughout the conference. In other words, the long-awaited 4K shift has an actual timeline.
Assigning a date to 4K was exciting but not unexpected. We’ve seen it coming for a long time now. But we were surprised by the other technologies we heard a lot about at IBC–features that might tag onto the 4K shift or even rock the boat and distract from 4K.
- High Dynamic Range (HDR): HDR is an imaging technology. With HDR, light and dark areas of an image can both display fine detail. In other words, the same exposure does not need to be used across the entire image. There’s no industry standard for implementation yet. Technicolor has a solution, as does Dolby Vision. In the Dolby Vision booth at IBC I was incredibly impressed with the HDR displays. I can imagine this having an enormous impact on future television sales–more than 4K.
- Wide Color Gamut: A color gamut is the range of colors that can be displayed on a particular screen. Unsurprisingly, a TV that uses wide-gamut RGB space displays more colors than traditional color spaces.
From my point of view, what sets HDR and wide-gamut color apart from 4K is that the improved picture is immediately visible on large or small screens. The human eye can’t resolve 4K well (compared to HD) until you’re looking at a ~60″ screen. But even on a laptop, tablet or vehicle screen HDR and wide-gamut look great.
If I were buying a TV today, I’d prioritize those technologies over 4K. What do you think–will the AV market veer away from 4K and toward improved color?